Published Feb. 22, 2013

SIDE STREETS: The rest of the story of the Rockrimmon buck, and it isn’t pretty

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This injured buck was perched on a retaining wall at Rockrimmon Boulevard and Vindicator Drive in Colorado Springs. Photo by Bill Vogrin
By Bill Vogrin

There’s good news to report about the Rockrimmon buck released by wildlife officials south of Colorado Springs in January after suffering on a ledge near a busy intersection with an infected leg and broken antlers from brutal rut season.

There’s also some bad news.

And some really bad news.

So proceed at your own risk.

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The buck in the summer of 2013 when it was healthy. Photo courtesy of George Gibson.


The good news comes from Side Streets reader Bob Zyer, who lives about three miles west of Highway 115 and Fort Carson off Barrett Road. That’s about 20 miles southwest of downtown.

Zyer had been reading the saga of the buck with the mangled antlers, swollen leg and drooping ears living on the ledge of a retaining wall near Vindicator Drive and Rockrimmon Boulevard.


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Photo by Mark Reis / The Gazette

He knew in late January state Division of Parks and Wildlife officers had captured the buck, treated its infected leg, cut off its magnificent twisting antlers and released it south of the city.

So he wasn’t shocked when a buck with sawed-off stumps instead of antlers showed up on his 80-acre spread where he and his wife, Linda, often enjoy wildlife sightings.

“The deer showed up here not too long after that,” Zyer said, explaining the buck must have traveled several miles from where it was released on Fort Carson.

“It was easy to identify him,” Zyer said. “He was playing. He didn’t look the least bit lame. He was chasing around with the other bucks. He looked fine.”

Like several readers, Zyer was suspicious when Michael Seraphin, wildlife agency spokesman, announced Officer Steve Cooley had captured and relocated the buck.


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Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife

“I wondered whose freezer they relocated it into,” Zyer said with a laugh. “But they actually did relocate it. I saw it and several of my neighbors saw it, too.”

That’s the good news. The buck seemed to have recovered and seemed like a normal deer — with one notable exception.

“When I approached him, all the other bucks and does walked off,” Zyer said. “He just stood there. Apparently he thought I should get out of my truck and give him a cookie or something to eat.”

Zyer reported the sighting to wildlife officials and he offered to take a photo of the animal.

“For a couple days, I hunted all the deer herds looking for him,” Zyer said. “But I couldn’t find him.”

Here comes the bad news.

On Feb. 8, Zyer called the wildlife agency with a follow-up sighting.

“He was on the side of Highway 115,” Zyer said, pinpointing the location as 100 yards south of the Turkey Creek Ranch recreation area entrance. “He’d been hit by a car. He was headed north. I think he was going home.”

Zyer said he turned around to get his camera so he could send a photo to wildlife officials. But by the time he got back, the carcass was gone.

Here comes the really bad news.

The buck that had gotten used to being hand-fed cranberries and blueberries by concerned passers-by in Rockrimmon had ended up becoming a meal to a hungry bear.

“The bear dragged him under a fence away from the road where it ate him,” Zyer said. “I saw vultures sitting on a fence and then saw where the bear dragged him. The bear and the vultures were the end of him.”

Dang. A car? A bear? And vultures? I hate vultures.

That’s not exactly the Disney movie ending I’d hope for the buck.

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Photo by Mark Reis / The Gazette